Area 51(2009) After Dark horror productions tend to be slick, low budget attempts at blockbuster genre exercises, and as a result their films are often more competent than your average direct to video horror flick. With that competence, though, comes a lack of willingness to do anything truly outrageous and an often overwhelming blandness. SyFy originals tend to be shiny, slapdash affairs that make no effort to appear professional, only to provide with cheesy entertainment. As a result their films are often looser and more energetic and bizarre, but also too knowingly cheesy. Area 51 combines the output of these two companies into a film that refines the best traits of both without overcoming their faults. The plot, about various aliens held at the famed Area 51 staging an escape, holds potential, but it's mainly developed as an excuse to have units of soldiers picked off by faintly Giger-esque aliens. What really shines, however, are the special effects, which are composed of actual alien costumes and props with CGI augmenting some of the action. This rare occurrence(especially for SyFy) made the film no less forgettable, but refreshingly enjoyable.
Catfish(2010) The best way ot see this movie is with little-to-no idea what it's about. I don't think it would be completely unenjoyable if you knew all the details going in, but the film builds to almost unbearable levels of tension at times, and knowing how everything plays out would most likely diminish that. That being said, what Catfish achieves, almost by accident, is something many documentaries are unable to do; the moving revelation of a distinctly human personality, and the realization that it is far more vast and unknowable than we might like to think. A lot of people have accused the filmmakers of staging the events seen on screen. Having read and seen interviews with the filmmakers and read articles about the claims in the film, I believe it to be mostly genuine. I don't discount the idea that the filmmakers may have manipulated the footage, and may not have been as innocent as they appear on screen, but I think the people and emotions on display are true.
Deathrace(2009) One good thing about the possibility of financial collapse is that reality television is about to get real awesome. This is a movie that defies any attempts at actually reviewing it, so let me just say that shit gets blowed up real good. And sometimes that's enough for a lazy weekend afternoon.